We’d like you to meet Eppie Thompson. As the textile artist behind The Fabled Thread, her work takes inspiration from folk art and world textiles, with storytelling at the heart of each piece. She is passionate about teaching sewing and the mindful benefits of the craft, beyond just the piece you create.
We’re delighted that Eppie will be joining us on Friday 24th February at Ham Yard Hotel as part of our new series: Firmdale Creative Workshops. Ahead of this, we sat down with Eppie to find out a little more about her exciting adventure with textiles. Join us as we ‘Meet the Maker’…
What made you choose to collaborate with Firmdale Hotels for this workshop?
I have loved the interiors of Firmdale Hotels for years, for its schemes that layer pattern and colour, as well as the amazing art collection. I have discovered so many of the artists I adore through the hotels, from ceramicist Robina Jack, to needle worker Colin Millington, as well as collage artist Jo Waterhouse. The art and textile collections displayed at Firmdale Hotels are second to none. So I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring environment to teach within!
How did your craft develop?
Having spent years working in finance in the city of London, my life took a bit of a left field turn in 2020 as I switched the desk job for needle and thread. I am passionate about the power of sewing. For me it was the perfect antidote to my stressful job, for others it provides a means of distraction, a sense of achievement, a form of meditation. I started The Fabled Thread in order to try and encourage more people to sew and experience its benefits. I wanted to create kits and designs which were totally accessible to any skill level and didn’t look like they had come from a kit. For me it’s not just about creating beautiful pieces – it’s about the process of making.
What inspires you?
I have been very lucky to grow up in a creative household. Whilst I was at school, my mum changed from being a social worker to studying for a fine art degree and the house was taken over by her creative practices. It was always full of the smell of oil paint and turps! Whilst we were growing up she would experiment with many different mediums and always got my sister and I involved. I think this early introduction to creative practices instilled in both of us a belief in our ability to be creative. From my experience teaching so many different people since I started the business, it is never skill which holds people back, but its fear of being creative. My creative confidence is one of the best gifts my mum gave me and something I hope to give to others through The Fabled Thread.
Where did you first find your creative inspiration?
I am hugely inspired by folk art and world crafts. I haven’t been able to travel much (something I do hope to do in future) and so at the moment all my travelling is through books. I spend a lot of time trawling second hand bookshops – the greatest places to find ideas you would never have come across otherwise. My latest haul of books covered topics from the paintings of pleasure cruisers on the River Hudson by James Bard, to the illuminations in Italian manuscripts, to Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian miniatures. I am not sure how all of these various sources will inspire me yet, but they are all whirring away in my head!
Where do you like to work and why?
My favourite space to be is my studio in Islington, London. We have two spaces – a workshop where we prepare all of the kits for The Fabled Thread and ship orders from and then a separate creative studio which is my space to come up with designs and play with ideas. Having spent my career working in very sterile office environments, I went slightly mad when I was able to design my own work environment – every surface has been painted and every inch of wall space is taken up with embroidery. Even though it’s quite a big space, I wanted it to feel snug and cosy, so even on a dark and dreary day, it is a joyful place to be in!
What is your favourite colour combination?
I absolutely love pink and red together – be it in interiors or within my own work.
Where are you dreaming of visiting this year?
I would absolutely love to visit India – a big trip from north to south to explore textiles. I went as a teenager with my family, but haven’t been back. So many of my inspirations come from here, from colours and textiles to decorative painting.
How has your style as an artist developed?
Since starting The Fabled Thread I have definitely gained confidence. When I started the business, I had never shown anyone the pieces I designed and created, so I held back slightly out of insecurity. However I have had the most amazing response over the last couple of years, building my confidence to go more and more ‘out there’ with my designs. This culminated recently in the launch of our ‘Woollies’ range which is my most ambitious kit to date. These huge kits are inspired by the sailor’s wool works of the 18th century – pieces I have been obsessed with for years but only recently have been confident enough to develop into kits of my own design. These are quite unlike anything anyone has done in kits before – a totally different approach to stitching and finished pieces which don’t look at all like they could be from a kit.
When are you happiest?
I am happiest when I am making. An empty day ahead of me in the studio, with no deadline, no required outcome, no pressure. Just to have fun and make (accompanied by a good audiobook!). I can’t think of anything better!
Do you have any tips for people wanting to discover their creativity?
Just to begin. From my classes, I notice the biggest thing which holds people back is getting started. A blank page is the most intimating part, but as soon as you get through that, it’s amazing how easy creating becomes. I do a lot of exercises in my classes to try and take away the pressure. Be this getting everyone to just draw the same image over and over as fast as possible, drawing
blindfolded, or silly group drawing exercises. It’s all about making the first step less intimidating so you aren’t put off.
If you are attending Eppie’s workshop at Ham Yard Hotel please do share your creations with us! You can follow Eppie on Instagram @thefabledthread and her website, thefabledthread.com. To see all of our Creative Workshops, click here.